How to Build a Cooling System for an AV Rack

Written by kristopher riggs
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How to Build a Cooling System for an AV Rack
AV racks generate large amounts of heat, requiring an adequate cooling system to keep the components functioning. (rack cabinet isolated image by TekinT from

Audio-Video racks are systems used to hold home theatre components. These systems are used to store large amounts of equipment in an organised and efficient manner. Unfortunately, grouping these components closely together generates large amounts of heat. Typically AV racks have cooling systems pre-installed or able to be installed at a later date. Installing a cooling system requires some mechanical experience in order to ensure the wiring is correct and safe.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 90mm AC exhaust fans (4 or more recommended)
  • Power surge protector
  • Screwdriver
  • Mounting screws

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  1. 1

    Roll the AV rack into a position in which the back is easily exposed. Disconnect all the component's power cables and any wires that interfere with moving the unit. Remove all the components from the rack if the unit cannot be moved.

  2. 2

    Locate the pre-cut fan exhaust holes (typically located in the rear, centred every 8 to 10 inches). Check on the 90mm AC fan to determine fan flow, facing the outflow toward the back of the case. Place a fan in each hole to ensure a proper fit. Make sure each open exhaust hole is filled with a fan if possible. Leave the empty holes at the bottom open if necessary.

  3. 3

    Use mounting screws and a screwdriver to secure each fan to the exhaust cut-outs. Route the wires to the corner of the AV rack down to the bottom. Install a power surge protector in an area that allows all the fans to be connected. Connect the surge protector to a power outlet. Reconnect all wires and power cables and move the rack back into its original location.

Tips and warnings

  • Remember that heat travels up. It is best to install fans near the top of the equipment rack to remove the heat as efficiently as possible.
  • Attempting to introduce cool air into an AV rack is generally unsuccessful. Passive cooling is adequate once the generated hot air is removed from the rack using exhaust fans.

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